New Rules Coming for Fiduciaries

There have been a lot of articles in the newspaper about reform in the Arizona probate courts regarding guardianships and conservatorships. You may have read some of them. Those articles incited enough reaction that they got the Arizona legislature’s attention with the result that, on April 29, 2011, Governor Brewer signed SB1499 into law mandating substantial changes to the statutes regulating these kinds of protective proceedings. SB1499 (also known as the Probate Proceedings Omnibus Act) becomes effective on January 1, 2012.

Some of the key changes are as follows:

  • Requirements that fiduciaries protect against costs that exceed probable benefit to the ward/beneficiary/heir/devisee.
  • Remedies against persons who take unreasonable positions, mostly by requiring them to pay a protected person’s attorney’s fees and costs defending against unreasonable positions.
  • Giving the protected person a greater role in removing a fiduciary, and naming a successor.
  • Requiring fiduciaries to be more responsive to requests by the protected person and his/her family for information on the protected person’s financial records.
  • Requiring fiduciaries to give advance notice of rate increases.

If you are a fiduciary governed by Title 14 of the Arizona Revised States (i.e. a personal representative, guardian, conservator, trustee, an agent under a durable power of attorney, or an agent under a healthcare power of attorney) you should take notice and familiarize yourself with the new requirements.